“Track Review: Menace Beach – ‘Maybe We’ll Drown'”

Score: 4 stars/5


“Maybe We’ll Drown,” the only track currently available from Menace Beach’s upcoming album Lemon Memory, opens with a repeated quarter-note stab at a mellowly amplified electric guitar, done over and over on the same chord. It sounds like something your little seven year old niece or nephew could do. Well, yeah, this is indie rock. You don’t need technical skill to play it. Just ask Everett True, the great critic of the British magazine Melody Maker and author of Nirvana: The Biography, just ask Mark Arm of Mudhoney, who of the grunge movement once said “You almost have to be good IN SPITE OF your technical skill.”
Now, let me backtack a sec here. I realize I’m presenting at least one glaring artistic fallacy. After all, it is only the beginning of the song, and I have not yet given them a full opportunity to showcase their skill; I have not yet heard the solo. Maybe there’s a trenchant, relentless riff throughout the verse coming up, like with Joe Perry on “Sweet Emotion.” Then we’ll get on the floor and start shredding. Well, the solo, as we’ll find out, is the other worst part of the song, partly for the simple act of embodying the incredibly cliched structure of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo, and partly because this dude can’t really freakin’ PLAY. So why does he look so tortured? Wait, I’m getting off topic.
But I would like to mention this band’s facebook picture briefly, partly as a way of validating this music-by-internet age in which we live, and partly to make a general comment on ideal interplay of a band. As we all know, pretty much every band in history composed solely of men falls prey at some point to egos, or heroin, or both. Maybe the exception would be the Christian leanings of Live and Collective Soul, in which case we perhaps should loosen our ruthless “coolness” clamps on such things. Yo La Tengo, man/woman couple of Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley, have been together and making music for over 30 years now. I’m not saying Menace Beach will definitely persist that long, especially since right now their primary goal in life seems to be drowning, but just looking at their picture — Liza Violet glaring “menacingly” [1] at Ryan Needham, Needham basking hopelessly within his own dystopian reality somewhat like Angus Andrew of Liars on “Scissor” (“I’m supposed to save you now / But my hands are freaking out”), you definitely get the sense of some artistic symbiosis.
Without a doubt, Liza Violet is a snarling young woman who needs to be saved — from the hopeless reality we live in today, from the dark environs of her home, from her primal, quintessentially rock-and-roll desire to just tear everything up, and turn everything on its side. Her band’s first album was called Ratworld, and the first song on it goes by the name of “Come on Give up.” Liza Violet’s eyes are the window to her soul, a soul the concentrated, pestilent fury of which gets diluted down to an ingestible level in the form of rock and roll, a medium invented in America, hence the name of her label, Memphis Industries. Menace Beach hail from Leeds, England, subject of an Indigo Girls song (“It’s dark at four pm in Leeds”), and product of venerable British DIY label Memphis Industries (very confusing indeed). There they are on facebook, there they are telling you will drown. That is something they do, and that is something we all do. Maybe.
[1] By the way Menace Beach is the name of a game for the old original Nintendo system, and which actually looks pretty fun.

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